Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10316/86423
Title: "Mind and consciousness in the universe": in search of ontological and functional answers
Other Titles: "Mente e consciência no universo": em busca de respostas ontológicas e funcionais
Authors: Correia, Gonçalo José Oliveira 
Orientador: Ferreira, Joaquim Armando Gomes Alves
Keywords: consciência; percepção; evolução; desenvolvimento humano; consciousness; awareness; perception; evolution; human development
Issue Date: 27-Feb-2019
Serial title, monograph or event: "Mind and consciousness in the universe": in search of ontological and functional answers
Place of publication or event: Faculdade de Psicologia e Ciências da Educação, Universidade de Coimbra
Abstract: Consciousness is the most enigmatic issue in current theories of mind (Havlik, 2017). The problem of consciousness is related to some of the oldest questions in psychology and in life: ‘What is the world made of?’, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What am I?’, ‘How did I end up here?’, ‘What is the meaning of life?’, ‘What is the meaning of all this?’. In the science of consciousness, some of the basic ones the what, how, why and the who: “What are we conscious? How do we become conscious? Why are we conscious? Who is conscious?”. The answers to all these questions remain unknown. Nonetheless, our views of reality, of the universe, and of ourselves depend on it and, as such, consciousness defines our existence. Today we know a lot about the brain and its’ processes but the continual ‘stream of consciousness’ still remains elusive. Part of the problem resides on the fact that the noun ‘consciousness’ is common in everyday life language and that, consequently it has different definitions, used in different ways. The noun is used by professional from different areas and ends up being used very differently across contexts. Another problem is that fact that consciousness studies are a ‘new’ subject and, essentially, multidisciplinary. It is essential to embrace the complexity of the problem of consciousness with a high degree of perplexity. The questions that arise from its intricate and complex problems can be as important as the proposed solutions.Consciousness implies awareness: subjective, phenomenal experience of internal and external worlds, a sense of self, feelings, choice, control of voluntary behaviour, memory, thought, language, and internally-generated images and geometric patterns (Harmeroff & Penrose, 2014). Awareness can be defined as the ability of oneself to be aware of the environment and the self (Grosseries et al, 2011), although this does not imply self-awareness and reflection upon one’s internal states are necessary prerequisites for the emergence of conscious experience. The question of the nature of consciousness in intrinsically connected to the question of the nature of the self. The self, the sense of ownership of the experience is, after all, one of the defining characteristics of conscious experience.In this dissertation, I explore the subject of consciousness. It could be said, perhaps, that the greatest mystery of human experience is consciousness. Science forfeited consciousness for several decades until during the 1990’s it started once again tackling this elusive problem: the problem of consciousness. In contemporary psychology, the majority of concepts are ‘contaminated’ by cultural influences. Despite this, and because of this, it becomes so interesting to study a subject with such a diversification of meanings, hypothesis and ideas like consciousness. Consciousness is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest unsolved scientific (and spiritual) mysteries. For an integrative science of consciousness, psychology, philosophy, religion and literature, mathematics, biology, physics and other must come together because separately, they do not allow a full analysis of human mental life and, consequently, of consciousness. Although this dissertation is submitted as the final product of a developmental psychology Master’s degree, I took the liberty to explore Neuroscience, Physics and Philosophy as well, in order to achieve a better understanding of the subject being addressed – consciousness. The reason for this is that, to look at consciousness from an integrative point of view one has to try and fuse/integrate these different levels of knowledge or perspectives. Only this way it is possible to address such a complex phenomenon as consciousness. Albeit using systematic contributions from other areas, the focus will always be put on psychology. Although this thesis is created with the academic objective of pursuing a master degree it is not restrained by the conceptual boundaries of particular subjects and aims to make leaps, projections and even assumptions without being deemed less or not scientific. This body of work was created with an underlying idea of the ontology of consciousness, one that challenges the conventional (neuro)scientific perspective of having the brain as the ‘producer’ of consciousness (will be explored later).There are many interesting questions regarding consciousness, such as: ‘What is the mind?’, ‘What is consciousness?’, ‘How does consciousness come to be?’, ‘When did consciousness originate?’, ‘What has been the role of consciousness in human evolution and what role can consciousness have in the future of mankind?’, to name a few for now. To this moment, all these questions lack a decisive, final answer. Throughout the course of this work I will try to approach several questions regarding consciousness. The objective is not to provide final answers but to discuss interesting and elegant ideas that might be able to help in the general debate regarding these questions.
Consciousness is the most enigmatic issue in current theories of mind (Havlik, 2017). The problem of consciousness is related to some of the oldest questions in psychology and in life: ‘What is the world made of?’, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What am I?’, ‘How did I end up here?’, ‘What is the meaning of life?’, ‘What is the meaning of all this?’. In the science of consciousness, some of the basic ones the what, how, why and the who: “What are we conscious? How do we become conscious? Why are we conscious? Who is conscious?”. The answers to all these questions remain unknown. Nonetheless, our views of reality, of the universe, and of ourselves depend on it and, as such, consciousness defines our existence. Today we know a lot about the brain and its’ processes but the continual ‘stream of consciousness’ still remains elusive. Part of the problem resides on the fact that the noun ‘consciousness’ is common in everyday life language and that, consequently it has different definitions, used in different ways. The noun is used by professional from different areas and ends up being used very differently across contexts. Another problem is that fact that consciousness studies are a ‘new’ subject and, essentially, multidisciplinary. It is essential to embrace the complexity of the problem of consciousness with a high degree of perplexity. The questions that arise from its intricate and complex problems can be as important as the proposed solutions.Consciousness implies awareness: subjective, phenomenal experience of internal and external worlds, a sense of self, feelings, choice, control of voluntary behaviour, memory, thought, language, and internally-generated images and geometric patterns (Harmeroff & Penrose, 2014). Awareness can be defined as the ability of oneself to be aware of the environment and the self (Grosseries et al, 2011), although this does not imply self-awareness and reflection upon one’s internal states are necessary prerequisites for the emergence of conscious experience. The question of the nature of consciousness in intrinsically connected to the question of the nature of the self. The self, the sense of ownership of the experience is, after all, one of the defining characteristics of conscious experience.In this dissertation, I explore the subject of consciousness. It could be said, perhaps, that the greatest mystery of human experience is consciousness. Science forfeited consciousness for several decades until during the 1990’s it started once again tackling this elusive problem: the problem of consciousness. In contemporary psychology, the majority of concepts are ‘contaminated’ by cultural influences. Despite this, and because of this, it becomes so interesting to study a subject with such a diversification of meanings, hypothesis and ideas like consciousness. Consciousness is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest unsolved scientific (and spiritual) mysteries. For an integrative science of consciousness, psychology, philosophy, religion and literature, mathematics, biology, physics and other must come together because separately, they do not allow a full analysis of human mental life and, consequently, of consciousness. Although this dissertation is submitted as the final product of a developmental psychology Master’s degree, I took the liberty to explore Neuroscience, Physics and Philosophy as well, in order to achieve a better understanding of the subject being addressed – consciousness. The reason for this is that, to look at consciousness from an integrative point of view one has to try and fuse/integrate these different levels of knowledge or perspectives. Only this way it is possible to address such a complex phenomenon as consciousness. Albeit using systematic contributions from other areas, the focus will always be put on psychology. Although this thesis is created with the academic objective of pursuing a master degree it is not restrained by the conceptual boundaries of particular subjects and aims to make leaps, projections and even assumptions without being deemed less or not scientific. This body of work was created with an underlying idea of the ontology of consciousness, one that challenges the conventional (neuro)scientific perspective of having the brain as the ‘producer’ of consciousness (will be explored later).There are many interesting questions regarding consciousness, such as: ‘What is the mind?’, ‘What is consciousness?’, ‘How does consciousness come to be?’, ‘When did consciousness originate?’, ‘What has been the role of consciousness in human evolution and what role can consciousness have in the future of mankind?’, to name a few for now. To this moment, all these questions lack a decisive, final answer. Throughout the course of this work I will try to approach several questions regarding consciousness. The objective is not to provide final answers but to discuss interesting and elegant ideas that might be able to help in the general debate regarding these questions.
Description: Dissertação de Mestrado em Temas de Psicologia do Desenvolvimento apresentada à Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10316/86423
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:UC - Dissertações de Mestrado

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